In video, Michigan GOP Leader falsely claims Capitol riot was hoax, staged

Shirkey offers no evidence to support false claims

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, watches during the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Michigan lawmakers plan to convene for the first time in weeks to lengthen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic but are at odds over the extension and whether the session is even necessary. The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 7, 2020, three weeks after last voting. Shirkey's spokeswoman said He thinks we can come to some middle ground in terms of the extension, and that doesn't preclude it from being extended again if were necessary at some point.  (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, watches during the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Michigan lawmakers plan to convene for the first time in weeks to lengthen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic but are at odds over the extension and whether the session is even necessary. The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 7, 2020, three weeks after last voting. Shirkey's spokeswoman said He thinks we can come to some middle ground in terms of the extension, and that doesn't preclude it from being extended again if were necessary at some point. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

DETROIT – Michigan’s top Republican called the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, which resulted in five deaths including a Capitol police officer, a hoax, in a video posted to YouTube last week. It was not a hoax.

Michigan GOP Senate Leader Mike Shirkey appears in a video posted on Feb. 3 by the “R.O.A.R. (Reclaim Our American Republic)” group where he makes several false claims. The video appears to show Shirkey meeting with Hillsdale County Republican Party officials, one day before the county voted to censure Shirkey. The video shows the group having a meal at a restaurant. It was first reported by the Metro Times.

In the video, which is more than one hour long, Hillsdale officials and Shirkey appear to be going through a list of issues between the two sides. Shirkey offers several statements on incidents that are demonstrably false.

Shirkey was asked what he thought “about that DC thing” by one of the officials at the table.

“That wasn’t Trump people,” Shirkey falsely claimed. “That’s been a hoax -- from day one. That was all prearranged.” Shirkey also falsely suggested then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a part in it.

Of course, this is not true. Dozens of insurrections have been charged with federal crimes after being caught on video, wearing and shouting pro-Trump material while storming the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. The riots took place immediately after President Trump’s speech, where he urged supporters to go to the Capitol. Trump was impeached for “inciting insurrection,” and is currently on trial in the U.S. Senate for the second time.

Shirkey issued a statement apologizing for the comments but did not admit that his claims are false:

“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve.  I own that.  I have many flaws.  Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them.  I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”

Related: Feds: Wixom man was one of the most violent participants in siege on US Capitol

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The reported video comes right after the New York Times published an article detailing Shirkey’s involvement with Michigan militias, who held armed protests at the Michigan Capitol last year over COVID-19 restrictions.

On the Capitol riots in January, Shirkey told the NYT: “It was people feeling oppressed, and depressed, responding to what they thought was government just stealing their lives from them. And I’m not endorsing and supporting their actions, but I understand where they come from.”

The Michigan Democratic Party called on Shirkey to resign over the NYT report:

“The Michigan Republican party, led by Mike Shirkey, has embraced right-wing extremists with open arms, including armed militia members who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said. “Mike Shirkey has met with these men behind closed doors, spoken at their rallies and helped fund efforts to fight back against the governor’s attempts to keep Michiganders safe during a global health pandemic. For all these reasons, Mike Shirkey should be out. I call on him to resign immediately.”

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FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington. An AP review of records finds that members of President Donald Trumps failed campaign were key players in the Washington rally that spawned a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol last week. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.